Rueben Randle might not be a household name in college football circles—he didn't even catch 100 balls during his career at LSU—but you can chalk that up to poor quarterback play and leaving school as a junior more than any shortcoming on Randle's part.
Randle plays a little faster than his 4.55 40 time at the combine would suggest, as evidenced by his 17.3 yards-per-catch average in his last year at LSU. He is just scratching the surface of his physical potential at 6'3" 210 lbs, and who might have had his talent concealed by a poor passing offense.
Randle's scouting reports reveal some doubt about whether he'll be a vertical threat at the next level, but are otherwise mostly glowing.
Randle is a polished wide receiver who has good, but not elite characteristics. He is a big receiver who runs good routes and has good hands. In the NFL, Randle is a possession receiver that could help move the chains... It looks like Randle would be a perfect fit in a West Coast offense that works through ball-control passing. He is a very good slant receiver and that is a staple route in the West Coast offense. He would not be good in a vertical offense that sends receivers deep consistently. Randle does not have the foot speed or quickness to get separation on go routes. Because of that, Randle projects as a second-day pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Pros: Very physical receiver with a good release off the line. Randle high-points the ball extremely well. Tremendous after-catch receiver who seems stronger on the run than his body type would reveal. Perfectly willing to go over the middle and make the tough catch in traffic, and he's a load to take down on slants and posts. Always looking to turn upfield and make that extra gain.
Perhaps at his best on sideline routes -- he gets the ball quickly, turns aggressively, and starts juking for extra space right away. Also great with fade routes, where he can use the boundary to gain an advantage. Not exceedingly fast, but appears to have an extra gear to break coverage when necessary. Willing and able blocker who will sell out in run support and blitz pickup. Impressive understanding of route concepts.
Cons: Not always a hands-catcher -- sometimes, he uses that vertical jump to catch a high throw when he could simply grab it with stronger and more consistent hands. Could take even more advantage of his physical nature with a better ability to use his hands to disengage from press coverage. Doesn't have elite speed, but his sense of the field should make up for that. Occasionally gets too acrobatic when an economy of motion would serve him well; NFL technique work should help a lot.
Randle's development from year one to year three at LSU—despite a remedial pass offense—suggests that he'll be a fast learner. He might not start from day one, but he'll get on the field in three- and four-wide sets.
His toughness while the ball is in the air and after the catch will gain the trust of his quarterback, and Randle should start early in his career. He isn't a big-play receiver who will catch many bombs, but Randle can produce at a Pro Bowl level and be much better than his middling collegiate numbers indicate.
Randle had a long wait in that green room, but it was well worth it. He's now representing the defending Super Bowl Champions, will have Eli Manning hooking him up with passes, and he'll contribute immediately. Giants fans, meet your Mario Manningham replacement.
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